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Bush worried about Dalai Lama

September 24, 2008

NEW YORK, Sep 23, 2008 (AFP) - US President George W. Bush telephoned
the Dalai Lama on Tuesday to express concerns about his health and
express his 'great esteem' for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the
White House said.

'President Bush called the Dalai Lama this morning to express his
concern over the Dalai Lama's health,' said spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

'The president's call reflects the great esteem he and the American
people hold for the Dalai Lama, who is a revered religious figure in
Tibetan Buddhism, a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Congressional
Gold Medal, and an important cultural figure and human rights advocate,'
said Mr Johndroe.

The Dalai Lama's office announced on Saturday that he was cancelling his
tour next month of Germany and Switzerland for health reasons The Dalai
Lama has been told by his doctors to rest after being recently
hospitalised with abdominal pains although 'his general health condition
is good,' his office said.

'We are cancelling his tour to allow him more rest and so that he
doesn't feel weak immediately again' after his hospitalization, the
Dalai Lama's secretary Tenzin Taklha told AFP.

The Dalai Lama had been due to travel to Germany and Switzerland on
October 10 for two weeks to give Buddhist teachings and lectures.

'His Holiness very much regrets the inconvenience this will cause to the
organizers of his programs as well as to those who were looking forward
to participating in them,' a statement issued by the Dalai Lama's office

'We hope everyone will understand the situation,' the statement said.

The Dalai Lama returned to Dharamshala in northern India, seat of the
Tibetan government-in-exile, on September 9 after recovering from an
abdominal illness that put him in a Mumbai hospital for four days.

The 73-year-old Nobel peace laureate had been admitted into hospital for
tests after suffering abdominal pain.

His Buddhist teachings scheduled to be held from September 25 to 27 in
Dharamshala will take place as planned, his office said. Another set of
teachings is slated for September 30 to October 4.

Doctors at the Mumbai hospital had said the Dalai Lama's condition
presented no cause for concern and that he 'just needed a good rest.' In
the weeks preceding his illness, the Dalai Lama had pursued a hectic
itinerary as he campaigned for improved human rights in Tibet while
China hosted the Olympic Games.

The health scare prompted special Buddhist prayer meetings in
Dharamshala, with dozens of monks and nuns gathering at the main temple
to pray for his well-being.

The Buddhist monk fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed
uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.

He champions a 'middle path' policy which espouses 'meaningful autonomy'
for Tibet, rather than the full independence that many younger, more
radical activists are demanding.

Still, China vilified him as the 'mastermind' of what it called a drive
to sabotage the Olympics and destabilize the country.

Violent protests against Beijing's rule broke out across Tibet in March,
sparking a heavy Chinese crackdown that drew global condemnation. -- AFP
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